Landowners in ATS Ford Drive, et al. v. United States ask U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to reverse trial court’s rulingOn behalf of a group of landowners who own property along the Nickel Plate rail-trail in Indiana, True North Law is arguing that the Court of Appeals should reverse the trial court’s decision and hold that the landowners are entitled to compensation for the federal government’s taking of their property.  The landowners’ brief is available here.

As set forth in the brief, the trial court’s decision should be reversed because the abandoned railway line across the owners’ properties was only an easement that terminated when the railroad ceased using the railway, and thus, the landowners regained full fee-title and possession of the land underlying the former railway.  Accordingly, the government took their property for the creation of the rail-trail.  The trial court had erroneously held that the railroad owned the land underlying its railway.  Second, the brief argues that – rather than decide a novel issue of state property law – the federal trial court should have asked the Indiana Supreme Court to decide the issue.

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